Kris Richard not returning as Saints’ co-defensive coordinator

Kris Richard not returning as Saints’ co-defensive coordinator

MOBILE, Ala. – Kris Richard will not return as the defensive co-coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Saints will be looking for a new defensive coordinator for the 2023 season after losing Ryan Nielsen to the Atlanta Falcons last week.

The Saints were not allowed to block interviews for the two assistants due to their unique status as coordinator, making the Falcons’ hiring of Nielsen a promotion instead of a lateral move. The Carolina Panthers asked to interview Richard for their defensive coordinator position earlier in the month before Frank Reich was hired as head coach, and the Miami Dolphins asked to interview him as well.

Both assistants received promotions last February after the Saints elevated Dennis Allen from defensive coordinator to head coach. Nielsen previously served as assistant head coach/defensive line in 2021, while Richard coached defensive backs that season.

Nielsen was still overseeing the defensive line and Richard was in charge of the secondary even with the promotion, but they didn’t call defensive plays. Allen retained call-up duties in his first season as head coach.

That means the Saints will likely also be looking for a new defensive line coach and a new secondary coach in addition to a defensive coordinator in 2023.

If Allen were to drop the game this season, it would be the first change there since taking over when the Saints fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan late in the 2015 season.

The Saints also have an opening at tight ends coach with longtime assistant Dan Roushar not returning. They could also lose Ronald Curry, their quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Curry, who is on the Senior Bowl staff along with several other Saints assistants, interviewed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week for their offensive coordinator vacancy.

The NFL Network was first to report the news on Richard.

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